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The Royal Path of Shakti, by Daniel Odier

The Royal Path of Shakti: The Erotic and Magical Techniques of Kaula Tantra, by Daniel Odier
Inner Traditions, 9781644117163, 187 pages, July 2023

Daniel Odier has detailed and explained each technique of the Kaula Tantra in his book The Royal Path of Shakti: The Erotic and Magical Techniques of Kaula Tantra.

Odier was born in Geneva and studied fine arts in both Rome and Paris. After working as a music critic for a newspaper, he traveled to India and studied with Kalu Rinpoche for seven years. Almost ten years later, he met the yogini Lalita Devi and received a transmission of Mahamudra and other mystical teachings in the Kaula Tantra Tradition. He presents the teachings in this book with the full permission of Lalita Devi. Odier has shared these teachings all over the world, as well as publishing poetry, critical works, and numerous books on tantra and Eastern mysticism. When not traveling, he resides in Switzerland.

“The problem with seeking enlightenment is that you always come to the point where you think you have it.”1

In his preface, Odier gives a thorough history of tantra and the great masters. With this background as his base teaching, he shares 43 Practices then followed by 24 Patala of the Kaulajnananirnaya Tantra. In addition to a Table of Contents that spells out each practice and patala, each page is earmarked with either the name of the practice or the number of the patala. This makes it very easy to navigate the teachings. He also adds this note about the teachings from his yogini Lalita Devi:

“Each time that I asked her where something was in the Kaula Tantra, she would smile and reply “I am placing it in your heart and that will be your library. Knowledge is not practice and the Matsyendranath took care to conceal the practice so that only he who received the direct transmission could penetrate the mysteries of the twilight language.”2

In reading about the practices, I learned that the chakra system was a little different from the chakras I had been taught in my yoga practice and Reiki training. This system utilized eight chakras, including one on the forehead AND one between the eyebrows. The other difference was the addition of a chakra of the mouth and palate. Throughout the information on the practices, Odier weaves stories of his own initiation into this magical system for life.

One of my favorite practices is “Practice 23: Dietary Practices”. In this chapter, I learned about the interconnectedness of everything and how everything is alive. He speaks of the importance of asking your body what it wants to eat. I also enjoyed “Practice 40: The Yoga of Looking with Your Skin”. I recorded the meditation in that chapter and enjoyed this exploration with the ruby goddess.

After reviewing the practices, I was interested to know what “patala” meant. It translates as “feet,” and refers to the lower regions of the universe: underworld or netherworld. These transmissions bestow sacred knowledge to the student and each one builds on the patala that comes before it. As I was reading the warehouse of knowledge in the second part of the book, I was reminded of A Course in Miracles and how the text starts with simple ideas and builds the knowledge base of the student.

My favorite patala is Patala 7, which relates to “old age and decline.”3 Through a series of meditations over a period of six months, one can transcend age and dying:

“By uniting with Kamakala, one can put an end to old age. Thus, we have explained to you the secret and the characteristics of the being who has changed inwardly.”4

At the end of the book, Odier shares a brilliant conclusion, a glossary of spiritual and mystical terms and a complete index. Each of these helps the reader process the information that he relates. This last sentence summarizes the teachings of Odier. The life of the yogi truly relates to changing oneself from the inside out. In his conclusion, he says this about the Kaula Tantra tradition:

“The yoginis saw the master-disciple relationship as an intense heart-to-heart experience-no wasting of time, no prerequisite purification, no milestones to get beyond. . . This is what this text reveals to us, imbued with the magic of a time freed of all religious conformism.”5

Odier’s writing style is very conversational and easy to read. The patala section is written as a letter or a journal entry that chronicles questions from the student and the teacher’s reply. I really enjoyed this style of writing and found it to be very personal and authentic.

The Royal Path of Shakti would be good for any yoga student, yoga teacher, or anyone who wants to strengthen his relationship with spirit or adopt a spiritual practice. I can see myself starting the new year or a new month by rereading the book, in a “practice a day” systematic approach.

Cool Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman

Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman
O-Books, 1789043514, 128 pages, December 2020

When picking up Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman, I really didn’t know what to expect. In what way was this book going to approach the idea of sex being cool? What I found was a fascinating examination of a sexual style that is (apparently) foreign to most sexually active people. I admit, I certainly had no knowledge of what the authors were about to present.

I was quickly drawn in by the meaning of “cool sex,” which Richardson and Doelman contrast with “hot sex.” Hot sex is the too-often dominant style of sex, characterized by fast, vigorous, and highly-stimulating activity that is intended to reach a peak orgasm. It is goal-oriented for one or both partners. This type of sex, while very exciting, is usually accompanied by a drop in energy after sex, and can also give rise to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Cool sex, on the other hand, is sex that is focused on awareness of the present moment: it has no goal. Instead, cool sex is about relaxing and opening the body to the flow of sexual energy between you and your partner. Through the techniques and mindful practice that Richardson and Doeleman describe, sex can become much more intimate, connected, and loving for everyone involved.

“[Y]our attention is directed inside your body, feeling any subtle or delicate good feelings inside of you. And you keep on feeling yourself – moment by moment. It is very much a meditation and mindfulness practice.”1

The authors describe the origins of cool sex, such as the tantric traditions in India, and present cool sex as a form of neo-tantra, where sexual activity is an aspect of spirituality. But the goal of the book is not just to offer a fresh perspective on ancient methods and ideas around sex. Richardson and Doeleman seek to help disabuse their readers of the idea that sex should/must be hot and goal-oriented (all the time).

While there is nothing inherently wrong with hot sex, the authors urge that exploring sex through relaxation and awareness can reveal new depths of sensitivity and result in wholly different forms of ecstasy — forms which heighten your creative, kundalini energy rather than diminish it through release (orgasm).

One of the most interesting points in the application of cool sex to both men and women is that each sex has a positive and negative energetic pole. These poles exist in different areas for males and females. By learning how to lovingly increase the flow of energy between these poles on yourself and your partner, your connection deepens. The authors provide plenty of advice and instructions about how to gently tend to these poles for relaxation and preparation for sex. I found these suggestions immeasurably helpful helping to create a relaxing and loving state, regardless of whether we ended up having sex.

Along with a deeper energetic and physical connection, cool sex also increases emotional openness between partners. Richardson and Doeleman also emphasize that the mindfulness of cool sex can help work through emotional tension, as partners will be more attuned to their own feelings and needs, as well as more receptive to the other person. Specific methods suggested in the book may also be useful for healing old emotional wounds, stored as tension in the genital region. But again, cool sex isn’t about having a goal (even the goal of healing) to accomplish. Cool sex is about being present to your sensations/feelings and allowing sexual energy to flow between partners.

Throughout the book, the authors regularly use testimonial quotes from interviews with people who’ve used these practices. Although making the switch to cool sex can take time and may not be super exciting at the start, these testimonials help to reassure the reader that allowing this practice to unfold in its own time yields amazing, deeply loving experiences. These quotes help the reader easily identify with other people who’d never considered an alternative to hot sex before, but are now reaping the benefits of these practices.

Overall, this book is a pleasure to read. The writing flowed nicely and each chapter is broken down into several sections to make the contents clear and digestible. Although Cool Sex could be a jumping-off point for someone interested in learning more about tantra, it is a unique guide that stands on its own. The authors do a great job of showing us an alternative to the common style of hot sex and providing a diverse range of meditations, techniques, and simple advice to help us all cool sex down and relax into ecstasy.

My husband (Zak from above) and I intended to write our own parts to do this review jointly, but I think he’s succinctly summed up the premise of Cool Sex. Rather than go into details, I am going to add in my own bit about how beneficial this book has been for our relationship.

I think cool sex is something I had been seeking for a while, but didn’t even know was a thing. Yes, it’s fun to get hot and heavy at a moment’s notice, but early on in my sexual journey, I realized how fleeting that moment was — often over within a quarter of an hour. I longed for a way to connect for longer periods of time in a more intimate way now that I’ve married a man I truly adore. The ability to sustain our passion and connect sexually in a way that feels genuine is a true gift that Cool Sex has provided us with.

My favorite thing about the book was the suggestions the authors make for stimulating energy flow between my husband and me. They discuss the polarity of male and female bodies. Generally, women have a positive pole at their breasts and negative pole at their yoni. For men, the positive pole is the perineum and the negative pole is the chest. Realizing this, we’ve been able to better guide the energy in our love-making to align with this polarity, and it feels really good so far!

To be honest, previously my breasts often were never the focal point during sex, but now they have taken center-stage. Much to my delight, based on the information about how the heart is the source of a female’s outward energy, I’ve discovered a whole new relationship with my breasts. I now notice them throughout the day, intentionally stimulate them with kindness and love, and sense into how this connection affects my energy. This has been truly life changing!

Practicing cool sex together has been a fun, exploratory experience for my husband and I because it makes us more aware of how we’re cultivating and sharing our sexual energy. When things start getting hot, we can slow it down with laughter when we realize and then fall back into a more sensual rhythm.

This practice really makes it feel like the love-making is coming from within, rather than guided by external expectations of how sex should be based on cultural portrayals of it. It’s nice to not feel the pressure to sexually perform, and rather have the opportunity to sink in and enjoy the moment. I think this is the secret I’ve been looking for all along!

I think many people would greatly benefit from reading Cool Sex and integrating the practices into their love-making. (I will note that it seems primarily intended for cis-heterosexual couples, but the principles of cool sex are applicable in all sexual relationships.) So far, integrating the information presented has certainly has cultivated new layers of intimacy in our relationship, and we are only at the start of this practice. I look forward to slowing it down even more as we become more comfortable with cool sex. I’m in it for the long-haul with my hubby anyway, so we might as well savor every last drop together, and this book teaches the sexual techniques to do just that. 🙂